Transatlantic poetry link established in Belfast - 18 October 2008


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Transatlantic poetry link established in Belfast

A novel transatlantic collaboration between poets from Northern Ireland and America will be celebrated in Belfast tonight.

The event at Queen’s University marks the simultaneous publication of an anthology of Irish poetry in the US and a collection of American poems in Northern Ireland.

The launch is the culmination of an 18 month project aimed at exposing audiences in each country to the other’s culture.

Among guests at the reading in the university’s Great Hall will be Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Natasha Tretheway.

The work by the Northern Ireland poets is titled New North while the US collection is called New Voices .

The initiative was supported by both the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the US based National Endowment for the Arts.

Dr Philip Hammond, from the Arts Council, explained the significance of the project.

“It brings together the work of new and emerging poets, the post Carson, Heaney, Longley and Muldoon generation,” he said.

“These anthologies recognise the contribution talented writers make to society, both here and in America, and are testament to the quality and portability of modern poetry.

“Both volumes are highly accessible and will help to expand the range of opportunities for people to enjoy the arts.”

Prof Harvey Hix, from the University of Wyoming, edited the New Voices anthology with Northern Ireland poet Chris Agee editing New North .

“I don’t mean to sound grandiose about the project, but the exchange of the two anthologies is an important civic event, in addition to being an important literary event,” said Prof Hix.

“Chris Agee’s anthology ‘ The New North’ introduces me and other readers here in the US to exciting writers from Northern Ireland, and I hope New Voices also introduces readers in Northern Ireland to the exciting young poets here in the States.

“Such reciprocity is too often absent from the interactions of nations, and it is a fitting — and powerful — form of citizenship to begin to know one another through that most intimate form of expression, poetry.

“Any country, especially a large one, will tend to present itself to others in monolithic ways. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to show another side of the United States — just how non-monolithic it is in its best self.

“I hope readers will see how many and various are the young poets in the US. They come from the full range of socio-economic backgrounds, have various racial identities and ethnic backgrounds, display the full range of human interests and concerns, and push at poetry’s limits on all sides’”.


© 2008


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